Pets, opportunity thrive at Animal House
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 23:02
Walking into Animal House is like walking into a miniature zoo. Birds are squawking, children are laughing and animal cages line every inch of the store.
Animal House, a pet store located at 379 High Street, serves as a home to more than 50 different animals, – including 12 who were previously neglected. The store offers a selection of pets ranging from the average beta fish to less conventional animals, such as prairie dogs and hedgehogs.
Animal House is more than just a pet store – it’s meant to be an educational experience for the Morgantown community. Cathy Cutlip, who opened the establishment more than two years ago with her son Jeremy, said she wanted to make Animal House an environment that combines common house pets as well as exotic animals.
"I wasn’t sure how the elderly would react to the different mammals and reptiles we brought with us, but it turned out to be a big hit," Cutlip said. "Being able to touch and feel animals they have never encountered really brought a smile to their faces."
When Cutlip is not at the store, she often visits local schools, as well as assisted living homes, to share her beloved creatures.
Cutlip has also been known to open her doors early for local boys and girls. She provides area youths with a unique experience that includes teaching children about basic pet care through hands-on interaction. However, her educational contributions are not limited to animals.
Animal House also participates in the Monongalia County SWAP program, which
provides high school students who have disabilities with valuable work experience before graduation.
For the past two years, Cutlip’s main obligation has remained the same: to educate the city of Morgantown.
Cutlip, who is in contact with more than 48 breeders throughout the nation, never refuses to lend a helping hand when the breeders can no longer care for the animals.
"Just a few weeks ago, I got a call from a breeder whose power went out during Hurricane Sandy; he had no where to bring his parakeets, and they would’ve died if I didn’t take them in," Cutlip said as she stood in a back room filled with homeless parakeets.
"It wasn’t the smartest thing to do, money-wise, but it was the right thing to do."
However, Cutlip does not work alone. The pet store relies heavily on her volunteers who share the same love for animals.
"We are a big family here at the pet store, and I am the mom," Cutlip said. "Whenever they need food or supplies for their pets, they know they can help themselves to whatever they may need. I would not be able to do this without them."
Animal House welcomes any volunteers who are willing to help and is a recognized community service program for those who need service hours for a degree or University violation.
"I believe the animals help the students as much as the students help them. It gives them an outlet that many may not have," Cutlip said. "A student rarely leaves the shop without a smile on their face."
If students wish to purchase a pet, volunteer or just want to hang out, Animal House is the place to be.
The store is in desperate need to sell some of these pets in order to provide care to all the animals residing here, so those interested should strongly consider adopting one of these lovable animals. Animal House can be reached at 304-296-8533.